2 Kings 4:18-44

Daybreak for Students

2 Kings 4:18-44

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK
2 Kings 4
So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well. — 2 Kings 4:25-26

During the 1950s, Dr. Helen Roseveare was working as a missionary in the Belgian Congo (now named Democratic Republic of Congo). One night at their mission a mother died leaving a premature baby and a two-year-old daughter. Without an incubator or electricity, keeping the baby alive looked nearly impossible. Then the last hot water bottle broke. During a prayer time with orphanage children, Dr. Roseveare asked them to pray for the baby and its sister. She explained the need to keep the baby warm and about the hot water bottle. As they prayed, a ten-year-old girl named Ruth said, “Please God, send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby will be dead. So, please send it this afternoon. And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?”

The boldness of the prayer made Dr. Roseveare gasp inwardly. She knew that the answer would have to come from her homeland, and in the nearly four years she had been in Africa, she had never received a package from home. Furthermore, a hot water bottle would hardly seem a likely item to send to the equator. She did not believe it could happen.

During that afternoon, a car delivered a twenty-two pound parcel from England. Opening it with the orphanage children, Dr. Roseveare found clothes, bandages, and raisins. Then she put her hand in the box and pulled out a hot water bottle. Ruth ran up, sure that a doll would also be in the box, and indeed a small, beautifully dressed one was there. Ruth’s eyes shone, for she had never doubted.

Little Ruth’s confidence that God would answer prayer was similar to the faith demonstrated by the Shunammite woman in our focus verse. This woman had been unable to have children, and the Lord had honored the word of Elisha and performed a miracle, giving her a son. When the boy died, she believed that Elisha could again touch God for another miracle.

Today, God wants us to trust Him. In any situation we face, we can come to Him with boldness and complete confidence, and we can do it without delay, just as Ruth and the Shunammite woman did. God answers prayer now just as He did in days gone by. While He may not always answer in exactly the way we desire, He will answer with what is best for us.

Do you have a need today? Why not bring it boldly to God? He will honor your confidence in Him.

BACKGROUND

Today’s text continues the record of the miracles performed by Elisha. God used him to raise a dead boy back to life, to make poisoned food safe, and to multiply a food donation.

The Shunammite woman had received a son as a blessing in return for her kindness to Elisha. When the boy was old enough to accompany his father in reaping the harvest, he was smitten in the field with a severe headache, perhaps caused by sunstroke. Once home, he died, and the woman placed his body in Elisha’s room.

When the woman told her husband, “It shall be well,” the word well meant “completeness, wholeness, or peace.”

The woman made no delay in going to Elisha. She went past Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, with a minimal greeting. When she reached Elisha, she “caught him by the feet.” Her prone position showed humility and desperation. Her question, “Did I desire a son . . .?” gave Elisha some indication of what troubled her. He sent Gehazi in haste with his staff — the symbol of his prophetic authority and God’s power — directing him not to greet anyone along the way because it might detain him. Yet the woman was not satisfied until Elisha began the journey toward her home.

In a manner similar to his predecessor, Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:20-21), Elisha stretched himself upon the child. This should not be interpreted as some type of artificial respiration. The child had been dead long enough for the woman to travel approximately fifteen miles from Shunem to Mount Carmel, and then come back again with Elisha and Gehazi. God performed a miracle in restoring the child, and the woman expressed her gratitude by falling at Elisha’s feet and bowing to the ground.

Verses 38-41 describe a miracle that God performed when Elisha was teaching his students at Gilgal. Because of a famine, it was necessary to cook whatever was available. Some Bible scholars believe the wild gourds that were collected were wild cucumbers that could be distinguished by their bitter taste after cooking. Eating large quantities of these could be fatal. The meal which Elisha put into the pot was probably not curative; rather, it was a symbol that God had made the food edible.

Verses 42-44 tell of a man who brought his firstfruits to Elisha. The Law of Moses commanded that the firstfruits belonged to God, and originally these offerings were given to the priests. However, in Elisha’s time, the priests were not godly, and many served Baal or the golden calves. Therefore, this righteous man brought his offering to the prophet. Elisha chose to share it, probably with his students. Though the offering was not large, God multiplied it to feed one hundred men.

AMPLIFIED OUTLINE

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.   The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
    B.   Jehoram of Israel
          3.   The ministry of Elisha
                b.   The resurrection of the Shunammite’s son
                      (2)   The death of the son (4:18-28)
                      (3)   The resurrection of the son (4:29-37)
                c.   The purification of the stew (4:38-41)
                d.   The miracle of the loaves (4:42-44)

A CLOSER LOOK

  1. What did the Shunammite woman do when her son died?

  2. Why do you think the staff of Elisha that Gehazi used had no effect on the child?

  3. What makes it possible for us to approach God with confidence?

CONCLUSION

Boldly coming to God when we have a need can demonstrate faith in Him. We should not hesitate in making our requests to Him.